A New Study Says Humans Are Probably the Only Advanced Civilization in the Cosmos
The Fermi Paradox may finally have an answer.
Between claims that humans aren't the first civilization to call the Milky Way home and warnings that advanced alien civilizations could destroy us with their interstellar messages, it's surprising how many studies have been written about extraterrestrial intelligences (ETIs) without the confirmation that they exist in the first place.
One of the greatest hopes of the scientific community is knowing that even the most pessimistic versions of the Drake Equation (the mathematical formula proposed to estimate the number of alien civilizations in existence) still predict that humans aren't alone—at least, until now.
New research from the Future of Humanity Institute and Oxford University claims that humans might be the only civilization in the observable universe.
Of course, the research is still based on estimates, since there's so much we still don't know about our universe. Still, even when experimenting with different probabilities, the research has found that there's still a good chance that we might be alone.
According to Dr. Anders Sandberg:
"We found that even using the guesstimates in the literature (we took them and randomly combined the parameter estimates) one can have a situation where the mean number of civilizations in the galaxy might be fairly high—say a hundred—and yet the probability that we are alone in the galaxy is 30%! The reason is that there is a very skew distribution of likelihood."
Sandberg goes on to say that humanity's chances of being alone may be much higher than anyone expected, especially when we factor in what we know about the universe:
"If we instead try to review the scientific knowledge, things get even more extreme. This is because the probability of getting life and intelligence on a planet has an extreme uncertainty given what we know – we cannot rule out that it happens nearly everywhere there is the right conditions, but we cannot rule out that it is astronomically rare. This leads to an even stronger uncertainty about the number of civilizations, drawing us to conclude that there is a fairly high likelihood that we are alone. However, we also conclude that we shouldn't be too surprised if we find intelligence!"
Scientists like Sandberg are still operating on best guesses, but it sounds like humanity needs to get used to the idea that no one's going to return out interstellar calls.